Let us begin with a quote... ladies and gentlemen, thumb your way to page 99 and follow along if you would...
"I imagine her sitting in the car of some middle-aged welfare officer, unaware of the conjunction formed by their own genitalia and the stylized instrument panel, a euclid of eroticism and fantasy that would be revealed for the first time within the car-crash, a fierce marriage of pivoting on the fleshy points of her knees and pubis."
By this time I was far enough along in the novel that the disturbing nature of the writing had little impact on me. Well, honestly I was pretty disturbed in general by it, but not as much as when I had first started reading. The though kept running through my mind as to why I was reading such material in the first place. Part of it was a mild interest to see how the novel would close itself out. [Part of it was because I paid for the course and because the almighty Clif said we had to read it.] However, I mostly just wanted to keep reading so I could contemplate how it could relate to something such as cyborg culture, rather than to another book of Letters to Penthouse (available at your local Barnes & Noble)!
Humanity's perversion and obsession with machines continually bombarded me throughout this novel. It seems as though we cannot survive without technology or sexuality, and now we are trying to find a way to merge the two of them together. In Ballard's novel, he expresses this desire with cars as the piece of technology and the crash injuries/victims as the forms of perversion. His sexual encounters reach their peak only when he is within a vehicle. The mere thought of one drives his character to orgasm. Sex is no longer a passionate act, but a ruthless and unrestrained one only achievable by the use of technology.
We have already surpassed this stage in some pockets of present society, although we often times choose to ignore it or have little knowledge of it. There are companies that produce machines and devices that mimic sexual acts themselves, removing the need for a second human being in the act. Sex has become a mechanical process for some in that sense, in that human is replaced with machine. Many cultures view sex as a sacred union between two people and something that should not be taken on a whim. These machines take over the role of one of those individuals, merely providing pleasure for the other human while receiving nothing other than a sense of gratitude from the human afterwards. (Does this make that human a cyborg after this stage?!)
Computers have greatly mechanized the entire sexual process. In my short time at Michigan Technological University, I was an unwilling witness to this sort of scenario. Those of you that know anything about MTU know that the ratio of men to women is four to one. Of the women, they are either already in a relationship, are blatantly unattractive (I don't say this to be rude, it's the truth), or have far too many diseases to risk a sexual encounter with (also known as "frat mattresses"). There were many among my dorm-mates who were single men, basically all of which owned a computer. One day I was walking to the central room to whip up a batch of Ramen when I witnessed a particular scene of interest that I only now remember. Across the hall from me was an open dorm room door, with one of the occupants on his way out. As he left, I watched the remaining student out of the corner of my eye. I saw him look around outside, most likely to see which rooms had their doors open (we usually left all the doors open when we were all in our rooms chillin'). I continued to watch as he quietly closed the door, and I heard the quiet click of the deadbolt lock.
I knew what he was doing. You know what he was doing. The computer became the only source of sexual "entertainment" for him. He couldn't find a human to interact with in such a way, so he had to resort to a machine. Tragic, no? Is this the path that Ballard sees us heading towards? Will there be a day when a single man can flip a switch, and a realistic female humanoid machine teleports in front of him for the sole purpose of his sexual enjoyment? I hope that our humanity doesn't stray that way, but I suppose my voice is just one among many.
I apologize if this entry offends anyone, but if you are offended then you probably havn't read the novel. If you have a story like my MTU one, it may be worth sharing just to prove I'm not the only one who's run into that sort of thing.